Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Refreshed in God’s Presence

Leslie Basham: Shona Murray knows you’re busy, but you still need to prioritize some healthy choices.

Shona Murray: I think it’s important to view these things, like exercise and food and sleep, as God’s gifts. They’re not luxuries. They’re not things that are extravagancies. They are actually essentials. So if you ditch these, you are actually jeopardizing some vital resources.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of A Place of Quiet Rest, for Friday, February 2, 2018.

On Monday, Shona Murray shared about a time when she went through depression. She was discouraged and burned out. Through the rest of the week, she and her husband David have told us how to develop healthy patterns of sleep, exercise, and rest. And today Shona will tell us how the Lord finally led her out of the emotional valley she was in. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Well, I don’t know about you, but I have really needed this conversation with David and Shona Murray. I’ve needed this book called Refresh. I just want to take a deep breath when I see this and thinking about the sub-title: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in a World of Endless Demands. I know I want that. I think you want that. That’s why you’re still listening to this series. And I think this is what the Lord wants for us, most importantly.

So, David and Shona, thank you for listening to the Lord in this journey that you’ve been on, for letting Him sanctify you through some fires, through some really deep and dark times. And then, thank you for sharing that journey with us and for the really practical wisdom you’ve been giving us.

I hope that many of our listeners will take advantage of this opportunity to get a copy of this book, Refresh. And some of the men who’ve been listening may want to order a copy of David’s book that is a kind of parallel book for men, called, Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burn-Out Culture. There’s a link to that as well at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Thank you for being a part of the broadcast this week, and welcome again to Revive Our Hearts.

Shona: We’re glad to be with you, Nancy. It’s our privilege.

David Murray: Yes, thank you, Nancy. It’s been wonderful to retrace God’s dealings with us over the years and just to remember how faithful He has been through all, and He will be to the end.

Nancy: Yes. Amen. And, David, you tell a story about a psychologist friend of yours who was asked how he helps counsel people with depression. I loved what his answer was.

David: Yes. I was very intrigued to talk with my psychologist friend, a Christian psychologist, about his own approach to depression because, increasingly, I was having people come to me for help. So I said, “Hey, can you tell me what you do, just very quickly, just initially, what do you do when somebody says, ‘I’m really depressed’?”

“Oh,” he said, “that’s easy. I give them three pills.”

I thought, Oh, gee . . .

Nancy: Tell us what they are! We’re going to sell them on Revive Our Hearts.

David: This is like every bad characteristic a psychologist can confirm.

Nancy: Right—like happy pills.

David: He gave a wee chuckle when he saw my reaction. And I said, “Okay, what are they?”

And he said, “Good sleep, good exercise, and good diet.” And he kind of laughed. Then he said, “Now, of course, that’s not the answer to everything, but that’s the basics. We try that first of all before we do anything else. And in a lot of cases, from mild to moderate depression, re-establishing just these basics can bring someone a long way.”

Nancy: And establishing those basics can keep us from going down a wrong direction to some extent.

Shona/David: Yes.

David: And, with all of these things, whatever you’re looking at, the Word of God gives us general principles about sleep, about exercise, and even about diet, “Whether you eat or drink . . . do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31). “Your body is a temple of the Holy Ghost. Your body is a member of Christ. Your body has been bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body” (see 1 Cor. 6:19–20).

So we have direct scriptural instruction on the moral and spiritual imperatives of caring for our bodies, but it doesn’t go into detail. And that’s, I think, where God’s Word points us to God’s world, to science, to research—good science, good research—that can help us fill out the details of these instructions.

Nancy: And give us wisdom.

David: It gives us wisdom, yes. There are of tons of sleep signs. There are tons of exercise signs. And diet as well, of course. There’s a lot of variety there, but you can avoid the extremes and just look at the basics of nutrition and vitamins and different food families and the importance of a balanced diet.

Nancy: All of that really does affect how we feel.

David: It does. I say to people often, “If you doubt this, go and eat at—I wouldn’t want to name a place, but a fast-food place—for two weeks and see how you feel at the end of it.” Food affects our moods.

Nancy: It affects our energy levels, our capacity for pressure.

David: Yes.

Nancy: This is my testimony here. I’ve found just over the last month or so that I have just had to get off the sugar, which is so highly addictive. It’s calling my name at 9:30 at night. But it’s making a difference in just my capacity to respond to pressure. I’m not saying, “Make a god out of 'don’t have sugar.'” But these things—anything in extreme—is going to have an impact on how we feel and can respond to pressure.

David: Yes. I think these two areas: food and mood; food and mind.

Nancy: He just said mind, for those who are not from Scotland. (laughing)

David: Okay, mind. I’ll try my American accent here. (laughing) What we put into our mouths affects how we feel and how we think.

The quality is determined by what we put in. It’s not difficult to find good research on these things. You don’t need to become a fanatic. You don’t need to become an extremist. That’s, again, our tendency. But just put some basics in place—we cover a few of them in the book—and just wait for a week or two and begin to feel and think the difference.

Nancy: Well, you’ve talked about a lot of practical areas, and you expand on those more in this book, Refresh.

One of the areas, Shona, that you touched on in the first day of this series, as you were in a deep, dark place of depression and anxiety and lots of physical, physiological symptoms. You were a medical doctor.

Shona: Yes.

Nancy: You had treated other people, but you were really, really struggling yourself. You touched on this in the first program. I want to come back to it just a little bit more because people have a lot of questions about this, and that is that a doctor/friend of yours recommended that you take some medication, an anti-depressant to help you get out of this hole.

I don’t know how you said it, but in this book, you had a really helpful section on some of the things to keep in mind as it relates to medication. Now, we’re not treating people here over this program, this podcast, or this radio program, but knowing that this is so common today and that doctors are very quick to—they have 15 minutes with you, and they’re trying to help you feel better. There’s a lot of quick medicating.

And you are a doctor, so you give some, I think, really practical and wise things to keep in mind about anti-depressants, about medication. Help us think through some of that.

Shona: The key thing about medication and depression is that you don’t rush into it, but neither should you refuse to ever go on medication. I never dreamed that I would be in a position where it was needed, but when I was in such depths, and I realized that I was on the edge, I knew there was one thing I could practically do, and that is to take this medication and view it as God’s gift, knowing full well that that was not going to be the exclusive solution to the problem. It never is.

Nancy: It wasn’t a happy pill that was going to make all your problems go away.

Shona: No. It’s not a happy pill. You’re not going to feel better tomorrow. Neither are you going to be addicted to it and have horrendous side effects and withdrawals. There’s a bit of conjecture in that, but it’s very important to remember that this is a gift of God, but it’s one of several strategies that you need to embrace if you’re going to get through depression.

What it does is it helps your mind become, if you like, more straightened out so that you are more capable then of looking at the other lifestyle factors which got you into that position in the first place, life’s circumstances, lifestyle factors. Very often it is not one thing that has led you to that degree of burnout and then, ultimately, depression. And, of course, you must not forget either that in some cases there are genetic pre-dispositions as well.

But, if all I had done was stay on medication, I would not be as well as I am today because over time, I had to understand the importance of looking, taking a long, hard look at my life, and the three key areas that David has mentioned—sleep, good diet, and exercise.

I probably eat reasonably well, but I always eat in a hurry. I would skip my own food at the expense of myself. As long as the kids were fed and David was fed, if I skipped or did manage to finish my meal, that wasn’t such a problem—well, actually, it was a problem.

Exercise, which had been such a major part of my life, had completely stopped. So all this adrenalin circulating in my body, through the stress and pressures and constant responding 24/7 through the day to child issues or work issues or through the night to similar on-call issues or kid issues, was flowing so fast and damaging my mind and damaging my emotions, and ultimately my soul, my spiritual life. It had no place to go. Exercise is almost like a vial that you open, and it leaves an opportunity for the adrenalin to flow out.

It was just such an important part of my life, and the fact that I had stopped it, put that on the shelf, like I had put so much of my own personal care on the shelf—the whole down time, the whole relaxation time.

Nancy: Because you were caring for others.

Shona: I was.

Nancy: But then you got to a place where you couldn’t care for anybody.

Shona: Exactly. I thought, Well, the missionaries went off to foreign countries with no comforts. I can live as long as I’ve got groceries stored down the road. What am I complaining about? I’ve got comforts, hot water, electricity. I don’t need these other things. But I do. I did.

Nancy: It reminds me of when you’re on an airplane, and they talk to you about the oxygen masks. They say, “If you have a child with you, put the mask over your own mouth first in the case of an emergency, and breathe, and then you can help your child get the oxygen.”

If you’re not breathing in God’s grace and the means of grace God has given to oxygenate your own body, soul, and spirit, then what do you have to give anyone else?

Shona: Exactly. I think it’s important to view these things, like exercise, food, and sleep, as God’s gifts. They’re not luxuries. They’re not things that are extravagancies. They are actually essentials. So if you ditch these, you are actually jeopardizing some vital, survival resources. And that impacts you. It impacts your family. It impacts a whole lot of areas in your life.

So, in summary, medication is maybe necessary. Don’t be too quick to take it. Don’t leave it until it is too late. The farther down in the pit you are, the longer the climb back up.

There are people who have tried to help who have heard bad things about medication, and they say, “Whatever I do, I will never take medication.” And maybe a year down the line, they’ve slipped so far, and they have to take it, and they feel, “If only a year ago I’d agreed, or at least considered it, I wouldn’t be in this situation.”

I’ve seen situations with families that have been impacted, and, yes, part of the reason is that we are afraid because we’ve heard bad things. We are afraid it’s not spiritual. But, for me, there was a pride issue. And maybe that is, at the bottom of it all, this pride. “If I take medication, I don’t have it all together anymore. I have to accept that I’m weak.”

That means, if I go to the eye doctor, like I did the other day to get my contact lens checked, “What medication are you on?” And I tell them. I used to say it under my breath, hoping they haven’t picked it up properly. And I think that is one of the main reasons why people say, “I will never; I won’t.” Yes, they have spiritual concerns, but I think the root of it can very often be pride, and, certainly, for me, it was.

And it was not until I was desperate that I snatched at that like a life jacket. I was drowning.

Nancy: Yes. And what I appreciated, as I read your story, is that you didn’t use that as a substitute for other strategies that would help rebuild your body, soul, and spirit.

Shona: Exactly.

Nancy: It was almost like it gave you a window of opportunity of recovery and restoration to where you could have the capacity to deal with some of those other strategies.

Shona: Yes. And there’s one other area I would like to emphasize, too, and it’s the spiritual area.

My colleague doctor said to me, because I remember saying to her . . . I’d just walked in, and I said, “Look, I’m going through a major depression I believe.” I didn’t believe it, but I knew objectively that was what I was supposed to see because I was still thinking this was spiritual.

So I said that, and one of the things I mentioned was, “I find it so hard to pray, and I can’t get through to God.”

And she said to me, “Shona, this is the time when you need others to pray for you.”

I would encourage you, if you’re going through burnout, extreme stress, on the edge, that, whatever else you do, gather others around you, sisters in Christ, or close people you can trust, and get honest with them. Tell them, and then allow them to minister to you because so many of us, we’re so used to ministering to others, but others ministering to me—that’s a very hard pill to swallow.

Nancy: Yes.

Shona: But you must. It’s part of humility and accepting, “God has put me here for a purpose,” and my humbling myself is part of that.

Allow the brethren in Christ to share in this ministry of recovery, praying for your recovery.

Nancy: And that can become a part of their sanctification as well.

Shona: It can. It can. You don’t know who you’re reaching when you’re open and honest with people.

Nancy: Oh, I think if we could just, in our average church, whether you’re a pastor or a pastor’s wife or somebody like me, sitting there with my husband, if we could really see into the hearts and minds and souls of people sitting around us who look like they’re doing fine and realize how much hurt, how much pain, how much dysfunction, how much despair, discouragement there is, I think we’d be so surprised.

We don’t really know each other well enough to know how we can pray for each other, how we can encourage each other.

That’s part of our heart at Revive Our Hearts—it’s women getting close enough to each other to know each other, to know how to pray for each other, to know how to lift each other up.

Shona: Yes.

Nancy: And the other extreme of that is that you’re always saying everything to everybody, and that has its own danger.

Shona: Yes. It needs discretion.

Nancy: Yes.

Shona: But at that point, you’re in a very weak position, and you need to ask for prayer, at least from one other person who you can trust in your life.

I’d like to say something to single women out there. You may not have a husband, but the Lord is close to you. You may feel He’s far away. You may feel the only real dear friend you have is so far away, but He’s not.

You’re like a child in the grocery store who’s lost his parent. I’ve seen this with my own kids. I’m standing at one end of the grocery store. I know they think they’re lost, and they start crying and looking for me. But the whole time I can see them.

Nancy: You’ve got your eye on them.

Shona: God has His eye on you.

Nancy: Yes.

Shona: I encourage you to reach out to somebody you can trust and talk with them and share your burden. It’s not good to share a burden alone. This whole message is to you, too, not just to married couples.

Nancy: And I, having been single for the first fifty-seven years of my life, can attest to many, many times when the Lord ministered grace to me in ways that I desperately needed and didn’t know how to get, and how He brought people around my life.

I had to be willing to open my life to those people and to say, “I need help! I need prayer! I need encouragement!” At times when it seemed like there wasn’t anybody, I think of Psalm 142 that talks about “no man cared for my soul; and on the right and on the left I couldn’t find anybody.” But then it talks about the Lord at those moments being a refuge for my soul.

So He puts the lonely in families, the solitary He puts in families.

Shona: He does.

Nancy: I, for one, so grateful for that.

Shona: What greater family can you get than the Church?

It’s interesting that you say it that way. One of the things that’s intriguing about depression is you can be surrounded by love and feel alone, totally alone because your emotions are so disconnected.

One Saturday morning I opened my Bible, again, not able to really connect with Scripture, but my eyes opened when I see Isaiah 54 on this particular section. It was as if God was shouting out to me. I was like a cork bobbing in a tumultuous ocean, and God is calling out to me and saying, “Listen to Me.”

I’ll read to you what these words were: Isaiah 54, verse 11: “Oh, ye afflicted one, tossed with tempest and not comforted. Behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems, and lay your foundations with sapphires. I will make your pinnacles of rubies, your gates of crystal, and all your walls of precious stones. All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.”

And then it goes on and it talks about God’s faithfulness to Noah. It talks about the unmarried woman and the wife forsaken from youth. But the two things that, for me, were tearing away my heart was: One, I’ve lost God. Two, what’s going to happen to my children? I’m not going to be able to bring them up. They’re going to die without Christ because they feel their parent, their mother died a reprobate and an apostate.

Nancy: This was your fear at your deep point of depression?

Shona: My deep fear. I was consumed that Satan had me in his grip. At one point I felt, “I must be demon possessed. That’s what’s wrong with me.”

And these two, out of the blue that morning, and God’s promise, “I’m going to do this for you. I’m going to rebuild you with a foundation and windows which are beautiful, and I’m going to take care of your children as well.”

Did I feel better? No. But I had something to hang on to, like a foothold to put my foot on on the cliff edge. That chapter will be precious forever to me.

Nancy: So, Shona, God brought you out of a deep pit, a dark place. It didn’t happen overnight.

Shona: No.

Nancy: You said earlier that it was really over the next three or four years that that restoration process took place.

Shona: Yes.

Nancy: So, we have some women listening today who are in that pit right now. Just speak a word of hope, encouragement.

Shona: Okay. There is no pit in this world that is too deep for Christ to reach into. None. You may feel He’s far away. You may feel you’ve lost Him. You may feel your life is like a storm and that you are shipwrecked and that you’ll never sail on the seas of life again with any joy, with any peace.

But God has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” He said, “When you go through the waters, when you go through the fire, I will be with you.” He has promised to save His people to the end, not just to this point in your life. There is not one sinner that Christ has given Himself for that He’s going to just abandon in the midst of the pit of depression.

You may suffer to some extent all your life. For me, it is always in the back of my mind that I did suffer from it, and it could happen again. But I know this much: God took me out of a fearful pit. He did for me what was the impossible on a human level. To me it was a miracle.

I often used to cry. I used to say to my dad, “Dad, I need a miracle.”

He’d say, “Of course you do.” And then he’d say, “God can do it.” And He did. And He will.

It doesn’t matter how bad you feel. It doesn’t matter if you think you’ve lost Christ. Christ cannot lose you, otherwise He would cease to be. You’re as sure in Christ as He is sure in the love of the Father. And that can never change. It’s unshakeable.

He will bring you through this. God has given us means. He gives us food. We have to pick up the knife and fork. We have to pick up the spoon to eat dessert. Nobody else can do that for us. God has given us Christian fellowship. He’s given us His Word. He’s given us exercise. He’s given us sleep. And He’s given us medication.

Each of these things if you receive these as gifts from God and give Him the glory for each one of them, even the ones that you’re not so sure about, but receive them with gratitude, He will bless. And the key is that if you see it as His good hand, He will bless it. You will one day look back and rejoice that your afflictions were, yes, for a season, but will bring forth fruit in your life in a way that you never dreamed of.

I never in my wildest dreams ever thought I would be sitting here today, not just with you, but away from my own island, in a far country, where today I sit here as a U.S. citizen. It’s the craziest, wackiest thing I could ever have imagined, but here it is—because of depression—because that led David into an interest in it.

You could follow these steps all the way back. If I’d known that at the time, would it have made it easier? A little bit. But God chose to show us none of these things. We have to live by faith. And when all else fails, you have to trust God. He knows what He’s doing.

Leslie: Shona Murray has been offering hope to anyone in a valley of depression like she experienced.

She and her husband David have been talking with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, and they’ll be right back.

Through this season of depression, David and Shona learned a lot, and they’ve shared their insights in a book called Refresh: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in a World of Endless Demands.

Shona is a medical doctor, and David is a pastor. They bring insights from those experiences as well.

I think this book is going to help a lot of listeners reset some priorities and make some new habits around healthy eating, sleep, exercise, and times of rest.

We’ve been offering this book to you all week, and this is the final day I’ll be letting you know about this offer. When you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts, we’ll send you a copy as our thanks.

Ask for the book, Refresh, when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com to make your donation and get your book.

It’s a big day for Revive Our Hearts’ listeners when one of Nancy’s books is released, and next Tuesday you can get the revised and updated version of Nancy’s classic, “Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free.”

And Nancy’s also updated the book, “Lies Young Women Believe,” with co-author Dannah Gresh. Danna will be here next week to tell us how the truth is setting younger women free. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Now, Nancy’s back with Shona and David Murray.

Nancy: Thank you, Shona and David. This has been very rich—rich for my own soul—and I know rich for our listeners as well.

David, I wonder if you would close our time just by praying for our listeners and asking God to take whatever truth has been shared that is needed in their situation and cause it to take root in their hearts.

David: Our loving heavenly Father, we thank You so much for Your constant love and faithfulness and for all the means You have provided for Your suffering, afflicted people in this world. You have provided Your Word. You have provided Your people, Your Church. You have provided so much for our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs.

You’re a God so full of grace, so full of goodness. We pray for help to receive these graces, to receive these gifts, and to embrace them as tokens of Your love.

We do remember the many listeners who are tuned in to this broadcast, who are in the pit, who are going through the darkness, and they feel there is no hope. Remind them, oh Lord, even through this story of Shona’s and through our conversation that there is always hope because You are the God of all hope, the God of all comfort.

We pray that You would draw these listeners to Yourself and guide them in the use of all that You have provided for them, and that they would be able to comfort others with the comfort with which You have comforted them.

Multiply these loaves and fishes and use them for great good and spiritual nourishment. Continue to bless Nancy and her broadcast and her team here. Continue to use them mightily in a needy world and revive many, many hearts, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you thrive in Christ. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.